Late quaternary faulting and subsidence in the central Dead Sea basin

Yuval Bartov*, Amotz Agnon, Yehuda Enzel, Mordechai Stein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


The Dead Sea pull-apart basin is dominated by two tectonic domains, each recording a different subsidence history. The margins are controlled by large N-S-trending zigzags of normal faults and the inner basin by north-south strike-slip faults. This tectonic scenario was accentuated during the tectonically active late Pleistocene. By analyzing the differential subsidence across the basin we illuminate its fine structure. Representing the marginal tectonic domain, the Massada Plain features two fault systems, one at the western edge of the basin and one at the central part of the plain. The integrated subsidence rate for these fault systems amounts to 0.3-0.6 m/ky at the basin margin and 1 m/ ky in the basin center. This rate is in accordance with the long-term calculations from boreholes. The Lisan Peninsula reflects a very different tectonic regime controlled by the eastern segment of the strike-slip fault and the rising salt diapir. The ascent rate of this salt structure during the Holocene was 9 m/ky, as calculated from the 6000-year-old ravinement surface. The volume of this uplift combined with the volume of Mount Sedom accounts for a maximum of 5% of the subsidence in the southern Dead Sea basin, with the remainder attributed to tectonic activity. The subsidence history of the basin is useful not only for the analysis of the basin fill over time but also for correction of datum elevation of the lake level curve. Here we apply this correction to the reference curve for consistency with the global sea level datum and for analysis of the factors controlling lake levels such as bathymetry and climate changes.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalIsrael Journal of Earth Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006


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